The deadline to submit qualifying offer to Restricted Free Agents is today at 3 p.m. MDT, and if they don’t send out an offer by 3 p.m., then those players will become Unrestricted Free Agents. The Oilers RFAs include: Andrew Cogliano, Ladislav Smid, Theo Peckham, Taylor Chorney, JF Jacques, Zack Stortini and Ryan O’Marra.
Obviously they will qualify Peckham, Smid and Cogliano. Smid and Cogliano can be qualified at their contracts from last season, $1.4 million and $1 million respectively. Peckham will be qualified at a 10% raise from the $550,000 he made last season.
Keep in mind that the player and team don’t have to agree to the qualifying number. All it does is guarantee that the Oilers maintain the rights to the player, and they can negotiate with that player for the remainder of the summer.
WILL THE OIL SIGN ANY OF THEIR RFAs?
Chorney is a good depth defender, but I don’t ever see him becoming a regular NHLer. Look for the Oilers to qualify him with the required 10% increase, just because they need depth on their blueline. He probably gets a one-year contract.
O’Marra is also a depth centre, who is okay in the faceoff dot and has worked hard at becoming more consistent the past few seasons. The Oilers want and need depth in the organization so look for him to get qualified, and eventually sign a one-year deal.
Zack Stortini would need to get qualified at $880,000, and it would have to be a one-way contract, because he had a one-way last season. He wasn’t a late-season call up when the injury bug hit, and he was a healthy scratch in their first playoff game in the AHL. He did dress for every game after that, and contributed as a role guy, but it seems very unlikely that the Oilers will qualify him. I got the sense that Tom Renney had lost faith in him last year. If he was coming off a two-way deal, they’d sign him because they need some toughness in the organization, but I suspect they will let him sign elsewhere.
Jacques is the most interesting candidate on the list. The Oilers don’t have a lot of size in the minors, but Jacques can’t stay healthy. Jacques would need to be qualified at just over $675,000 and it would have to be a one-way contract. He wouldn’t be expensive, but will the Oilers take another flyer on him?
I don’t think they will. They will try and replace him with a similar player, who they feel can play the entire season.
Once they decide on their RFAs, then they have three UFAs to consider. Jason Strudwick, Jim Vandermeer and Steve MacIntyre currently don’t have deals. They won’t re-sign Strudwick, and if he doesn’t sign with another team, they would love to have him work in some capacity in the organization.
This won’t be popular with some fans, but I don’t think they will bring MacIntyre back. He likely is the toughest player in the league, but the list of guys willing to fight him is shrinking by the day, so how important is to have the reigning champ if no one will fight him? Renney only gave him an average of 3:32 TOI per game last year, which shows me he doesn’t trust Big Mac as a player.
Renney has a track record of playing tough guys for 8-10 minutes a night, and in New York he trusted his 4th line a lot. He didn’t trust his 4th line last season — excluding Ryan Jones who played there and on 2nd and 3rd lines– and I don’t see how that has changed since the season ended.
Vandermeer is the most likely to return. He was solid in the second half of the season, but he was invisible in the first half. If he would agree to a one-year deal around $1- $1.2 million I think the Oilers would consider bringing him back. If they don’t have MacIntyre, Strudwick, Jacques and Stortini they will need Vandermeer’s toughness.
There aren’t many UFA D-men who are as tough as Vandermeer. Steve Montador would be the closest, but I suspect he’ll get close to double the money of Vandermeer. Montador has been an even or a plus player the past six years, and he’s tallied four straight 20+ point seasons. I’d take him over Vandermeer, but I’m not sure the Oilers could get him.
Do they risk testing the free agent waters and coming up empty and then hope Vandermeer is still available, or do they play it safe and sign him before Friday?
I’m a bit of a risk-taker so I’d try it. Would you?
If they strike out, I think they’d still be able to sign Vandermeer, it just might cost them an extra $100,000 or so.
The Oilers HAVE NOT qualified JF Jacques. He will become an unrestricted free agent. I’ll look into the rest.
It is official, Zack Stortini also wasn’t qualified. He will test the market.